At least the Orioles went down quickly

Lack of clutch hitting dooms team again

May 17, 2010|By Kevin Cowherd

It was one of those games at Camden Yards on Sunday. You know the type.

Not a lot of offense for the Orioles.

Zero clutch hitting.

But at least it was quick.

The Orioles lost, 5-1, to Cleveland in a tidy two hours and 17 minutes, making Indians starter Jake Westbrook look like Cy Young until Luke Scott's homer in the ninth inning.

Westbrook, who evened his record at 2-2 and gave up nine hits, missed all of last season after having Tommy John elbow ligament-reconstruction surgery.

You hate to think what could have happened if the guy had been his old self.

Here's what a snooze this was: In the third inning, the scoreboard began flashing pictures of ushers — during the game!

So instead of seeing a shot of, say, Indians leadoff hitter Asdrubal Cabrera, you saw a shot of an usher who had just been named Employee of the Month.

It was a technical glitch, obviously. Nevertheless, I found myself thinking: Wonder if any of these ushers can hit? And if so, is there any way to work them into the lineup in a hurry? Or do they have to go through the whole rigmarole of a physical, contract signing, etc.?

We joke, but of course it was no laughing matter to the Orioles, who missed another golden opportunity to beat one of the American League's bottom feeders.

"We didn't get the hits at the right time," said manager Dave Trembley, who has said this so often that he should tape it and play it for the media after every game. "We left too many men on base early in the game. And Westbrook made big pitches when he had to."

So now the Orioles are 3-3 on this homestand, which started with three games against the Seattle Mariners followed by three with the Indians. Tonight, the Kansas City Royals, last in the AL Central, come in for two games before the Orioles head to Texas for two games and Washington for three.

But the fact is, the way the Orioles are hitting, they would have trouble beating a good Triple-A team.

If you're an Orioles fan, here are a few stats to get your day off to a bad start: In 24 of their 38 games, the Orioles have scored three runs or fewer.

In 18 of those games, they've scored two runs or fewer. And in 12 of those games, they've been held to either one run or no runs.

How are you going to win when your offense is that feeble?

Answer: You can't. I don't care who you're playing.

First base alone has been a nightmare for the Orioles. How about this stat: They have zero home runs from that position this season. Zero.

Rhyne Hughes was sent down to Triple-A Norfolk on Saturday night after he went 6-for-38 since his first two games in Boston.

Garrett Atkins has been a huge disappointment since coming over in free agency, batting .243 with no homers and six RBIs.

When Trembley was asked what he planned to do about the first-base situation, he didn't answer for several seconds as his eyes took on that thousand-yard stare.

"I'll sleep on it," he said finally, "see where we're at."

Memo to Orioles fans: Look for someone else to be playing first real soon. Maybe one of the ushers.

The horrible offense, I see, has renewed the calls on sports-talk shows and message boards for hitting coach Terry Crowley to be fired.

Trembley, of course, has been a dead man walking with a certain segment of the fan base for weeks. That comes with the territory when your team gets off to a 2-16 start.

But now the drumbeat is getting louder for Crowley's head, too.

Me, I don't get it.

The guy has been a major league hitting coach for 24 years. This is his 16th season as an Orioles coach.

What happened — did he suddenly get stupid? Suddenly forget everything he knew about hitting?

"All I can say is, Crow works his tail off," said Ty Wigginton, who's still scorching hot, 12-for-27 in his past seven games. "He is absolutely an unbelievable hitting coach. He's in that cage 24 hours a day, pretty much, and nobody sees the work he puts in.

"That's one job that [doesn't] ever get the credit it deserves. And [hitting coaches] take a lot of heat when they don't deserve it either. He's definitely one of the best I've had."

Please. Don't tell me a good man like Terry Crowley is the problem on this team.

Not with all the other issues the Orioles have.

That's just ridiculous.

kevin.cowherd@baltsun.com

Listen to Kevin Cowherd on Tuesdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. with Jerry Coleman on Fox 1370 AM Sports.


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